Broncos Country finally got a look at their potential quarterback of the future with Drew Lock making his NFL debut against the Chargers.
The Broncos opened the game strong, putting up 14 points in the first quarter for only the second time in Denver’s last 20 games, but much like in the Minnesota game, the team folded down the stretch.
How did Drew Lock and the rest of the Broncos play?
Drew Lock kicked “Drewcember” off by looking even better than advertised in his debut.
The problems with accuracy and footwork still occasionally bothered him, but he protected the football for the most part and delivered multiple nice passes to his receivers, including a gorgeous touchdown throw to Courtland Sutton.
Lock also showcased his strong arm and impressive mobility, consistently delivering lasers into tight windows and extending plays with his legs.
He has a way to go before he’s considered a franchise quarterback, but he made it very clear that he belongs in this league on Sunday. Hopefully, the Broncos open the playbook more for him and don’t limit him to screens and dump-offs.
Drew Lock, Dalton Risner and Noah Fant have grabbed most of the headlines, but Dre’Mont Jones has been one of the most consistent rookies for the Broncos this season despite limited playing time.
Jones made the biggest play of the first half, when he intercepting Philip Rivers on a screen pass that set the Broncos up deep in Chargers territory and led to their second touchdown.
Jones has tallied 15 pressures and a sack this season and has been the Broncos’ second-most productive pass rusher this season per Pro Football Focus’ pass-rushing productivity metric.
Jones’ pass-rushing productivity (5.9) is second in the league among all rookies with at least 100 snaps, trailing only Ed Oliver (6.0).
Is Courtland Sutton even human?
Every week, no matter who the quarterback is, no matter who the cornerback is, no matter how conservative Rich Scangarello is calling the game, Sutton always makes a play that leaves your jaw scraping along the ground.
After he ‘mossed’ Browns cornerback Denzal Ward, it seemed it couldn’t get any better, but it did with Sutton’s first touchdown catch against the Chargers which should be in the running for catch of the year.
The Broncos officially have a world-class receiver.
Offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello had possibly his worst game with the Broncos, which is saying something considering how rocky his debut season has been.
For starters, he was way too conservative. Following Denver’s second takeaway of the game, which started the offense at the Chargers’ 18 yard line, the Broncos ran the ball three times and then kicked a field goal.
The Broncos also had a 3rd-and-one near midfield where they ran a pitch to Phillip Lindsay that was immediately swallowed up for a loss.
Scangarello’s ridiculous conservatism hurt them worst at the end of the half, though. First, with all the momentum on their side, he chose to run the clock down and punt it back to the Chargers rather than trying to score. The Chargers responded with a quick touchdown drive that left 20 seconds on the clock and only then did the Broncos attempt to put up points before the half.
After the game and during, it was clear that the Chargers had the Austin Ekeler vs. Todd Davis matchup circled all week long.
Ekeler is easily one of the league’s best pass-catching backs and Todd Davis is one of the worst coverage linebackers. Whenever the two matched up, it went exactly as you would expect.
Davis got absolutely scorched on a 30-yard wheel route that left Ekeler wide open for an easy touchdown that made it a seven-point game right before the half.
One could make a strong argument that DaeSean Hamilton has been the most disappointing player on the entire Broncos roster.
Following the trade of Emmanuel Sanders, Hamilton was supposed to step forward and be the guy opposite of Sutton and instead he’s fallen down the depth chart.
Against the Chargers, Hamilton had a killer drop on third down as the Broncos were driving down the field late. It stopped Denver’s drive and forced them to attempt a 52-yard field goal for the lead which they luckily hit.
Hamilton had no excuse to drop the well-delivered ball with no one around him, and it could have cost the Broncos the game. It would have been the second time this season a Hamilton drop arguably cost them the game